Over to You


Are you interested in one week's work placement in The Irish Times? Transition Year students can learn first-hand about the workings of this newspaper if their submission is published in Media Scope's weekly Over to You column. Just send us a 200-word piece on a media-related topic.

Lisa Owens - Crescent College Comprehensive, Limerick.

For decades teenagers have been branded as lazy, selfish pubescents, but now a new trait has been added to this stereotype: we're alcohol abusers. Underage drinking, in the eyes of many, has become a huge problem.

Teenagers nowadays like to enjoy a drink or two and see it as nothing morally wrong, but a sort of evoking of their natural sense of rebellion. One cause of this is the legal drinking age in Ireland - which is two years higher than many European countries. If it were lowered to 16 there might not be such a problem, because it wouldn't be illegal or "dangerous" to drink. We all know the saying, "forbidden fruit tastes sweeter."

However, if the age were 16, some people say, this might actually encourage drinking among those young people who wouldn't actually do it otherwise.

Maybe the parents could introduce alcohol into the child's life at home. If you could do it in the home, why would you do it outside?

It would be almost impossible to stop all underage people from drinking, and why would you try? It only makes them want it even more.

Ruth Fitzsimons, St Mary's Secondary School, Baldoyle, Dublin

As a 15-year-old girl leafing through magazines, I find myself appalled again at how the issue of weight loss is dominating every magazine column and newspaper, oozing from book shelves and screaming in supermarkets.

Yet there they were: two beautiful, intelligent women gushing over their "nightmare struggle" in the eternal fight to be Kate Moss. Those I speak of are, of course, Sarah Ferguson and Monica Lewinsky. Granted they have been through the mill, ground down to powder, and pasted onto every front cover . . . only to be resurrected using the cheapest gimmick and preying on people with already low self-esteem?

I would find it much easier to respect people who defined their images under the banner of "Accept Yourself" instead of stealing fashion's best-loved affirmation - "You Are Not Okay".

According to the media, a woman's value can be read off the bathroom scales, and less is infinitely more. Dieting is the passport to the club of the millennium woman. Should I just pack in my confidence and belief in myself as more than a number and join the rest of them in the gym?

Write to media scope by posting your comments to Newspaper in the Classroom, The Irish Times, 11-16 D'Olier Street, Dublin 2, or faxing them to (01) 679 2789. Be sure to include your name, address and school, plus phone numbers for home and school. Or you can use the Internet and e-mail us at mediapage@irishtimes.ie

media scope is a weekly media studies page for use in schools. Group rates and a special worksheet service (see `fax-back', right) are available: Free-phone 1800-798884.

media scope is edited by Harry Browne.